SHANGHAI: 29 November 2013 — When it comes to the appeal of new vehicles, Chinese domestic auto brands have narrowed the gap with international brands to its slimmest level since 2003, according to the J.D. Power Asia Pacific 2013 China Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) StudySM released today.
Now in its 11th year, the study examines how gratifying a new vehicle is to own and drive, based on owner evaluations during the first two to six months of ownership. The study examines 82 attributes across 10 vehicle performance categories: vehicle exterior; vehicle interior; storage and space; audio/ entertainment/ navigation; seats; HVAC; driving dynamics; engine/ transmission; visibility and driving safety; and fuel economy.
The overall APEAL score among Chinese domestic brands averages 772 points (on a 1,000-point scale), compared with 816 among international brands. The 44-point gap between domestic and international brands is the smallest in the history of the study and down from a 58-point gap in 2012.
Collectively, Korean brands achieve the highest average APEAL score by country of origin, with an average score of 838 points. European brands average 823 points, followed by U.S. (805) and Japanese (800) brands. Chinese brands average 32 points below industry average, an improvement from 2012 when they were 41 points below industry average.
The overall new-vehicle APEAL score in 2013 averages 804 points in 2013, decreasing by 18 points from 2012. This significant drop in vehicle APEAL is attributed to consumers in China having becoming more discerning, particularly because they have an ever-increasing range of new vehicles from which to choose.
"With more than 500 passenger vehicle models in the market, it has become more difficult to woo Chinese consumers," said Dr. Mei Songlin, vice president and managing director of J.D. Power China. "Our data shows that new-vehicle shoppers consider 2.62 brands, on average, before making their purchase decision, compared with 2.48 in 2012. Such comparisons have resulted in customers becoming more critical when rating their experience with their vehicle."
The significant year-over-year price decline in the auto industry has also negatively impacted owner satisfaction with their vehicle, according to the 2013 study.
"If an owner sees the price of their newly purchased vehicle declining dramatically, their appreciation of the vehicle's appeal is negatively affected," said Dr. Mei. "Of the 12 segments included in the study, nine have experienced a decline in vehicle prices during the nine-month study period."
The study finds that new-vehicle performance has a strong impact on customer loyalty and advocacy. The more satisfied owners are with the performance of their vehicle, the more likely they are to recommend it to others and repurchase from the same brand in the future. Among owners whose vehicle achieved an APEAL score of 861 or higher, 31 percent say they "definitely will" repurchase a vehicle from the same manufacturer again, and 54 percent say they "definitely will" recommend their model to family and friends. In comparison, repurchase and recommendation intentions drop to 6 percent and 15 percent, respectively, among owners whose vehicle achieved an APEAL score of lower than 749.
"Key areas of focus for automakers in the Chinese market are smell of interior, fuel economy and seat materials," said Tony Zhou, automotive research director at J.D. Power China. "In particular, improving smell of interior may improve customer satisfaction, as it is an area that receives low ratings from vehicle owners."
Luxury brands earn the six highest-ranked positions among the 65 brands examined in the study. Land Rover ranks highest among nameplates, with a score of 857, followed by Audi and Mercedes-Benz (in a tie) with 848 each. Volvo (847) ranks fourth and Cadillac (845) fifth.
Two Chinese domestic brands—Luxgen and Zhonghua—rank above industry average.
Beijing Hyundai and Shanghai General Motors each receive two model-level awards: Beijing Hyundai for the Langdong Elantra (midsize) and ix35 (SUV) and Shanghai General Motors for the Chevrolet Sail (premium compact segment) and Buick New GL8 (MPV).
The Dongfeng Yueda Kia (Kia K2) ranks highest in the entry midsize segment. Chinese domestic models Wuling Hongguang (mini van) and Baojun Lechi (compact) rank highest in their respective segments.
In total, 10 segments are eligible for awards in 2013. The highest-ranked models by segment are:
- Compact segment: Baojun Lechi
- Premium compact segment: Chevrolet Sail
- Entry midsize segment: Kia K2
- Midsize segment: Hyundai Langdong Elantra
- Upper premium midsize segment: Volkswagen Magotan
- Luxury segment: Mercedes-Benz S-Class
- Luxury SUV segment: Audi Q5
- SUV segment: Hyundai ix35
- MPV segment: Buick new GL8
- Mini van segment: Wuling Hongguang
The 2013 China Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study is based on evaluations from 20,926 owners who purchased a new passenger vehicle between October 2012 and June 2013.
About J.D. Power Asia Pacific
J.D. Power Asia Pacific has offices in Tokyo, Singapore, Beijing, Shanghai and Bangkok that conduct customer satisfaction research and provide consulting services in the automotive, information technology and finance industries. Together, the five offices bring the language of customer satisfaction to consumers and businesses in China, Australia, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam. Information regarding J.D. Power Asia Pacific and its products can be accessed through the Internet at www.jdpower.com. Media email contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.Please follow J.D. Power at http://e.weibo.com/jdpowerchina.
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 LMC Automotive forecasts a total of 524 passenger vehicle models with a sales volume of 100 units and above. Import cars are included.
 Among the 12 segments examined in this year's study, 10 are award-eligible. Eligibility requires a minimum of four models with sufficient samples, and at least one model performing above the segment average.